Free Hugs in Panama City

By Tim Kroeger October 11, 2013 Central America, Panama

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After an horrible Border Crossing from Costa Rica to Panama and a 17.5 hours trip from San José, Costa Rica I finally arrive in the afternoon at the bus terminal in Panama City. My hostel is in Marbella. I first want to go by bus however I realise soon that it is quite difficult, takes a lot of time and that the taxis are way cheaper than in Costa Rica. About 30 minutes later I am at the Hostel Villa Vento Surf.

The Hostel is located in the heart of Panama city, in Marbella. It is a safe  neighborhood, easy to walk everywhere and only a few minutes away from Calle Uruguay, one of Panamas Partystreets. So a great place to stay for Backpackers. I can only recommend this hostel. For 10 USD you get a clean bed in a dorm and panckakes and coffee for breakfast. The owners are really nice and even joined us for some drinks.

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On the next day I wake up early, still a little bit tired but excited to explore Panama. From the hostel I walk to the waterside promenade. It makes me think of The Corniche in Doha, maybe also Singapore because of all the towers owned by banks. Maybe also because it is a very clean place, everything seems to be well-arranged.


I keep on walking untill I reach the fishmarket at the end of the waterside promenade. I can smell it already from far away.

Once you are on the fishmarket you should definitely try Ceviches. Ceviches is a popolar seafood dish in the coastal areas of America. It is delicious and costs only about 2.50 USD. In the building of the fishmarket there is a restaurant offering all kind of meals with fish. However I recommend you to go out on the other side of the buidling. There are many small places where you can eat, it is cheaper and you can enjoy a really nice atmosphere as you can see in this video:

From the fishmarket I walk further to Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City. On my way I find a bike rental. For only 4 USD per hour I spontaneously decide to rent one. A little bit disoriented, not knowing where to go I meet two policemen who show me the direction, and explain where I should not go. Thankful for these tips I drive along the small streets, between very old and beautiful buildings, past the Plaza de Francia, Plaza de la Independencia, San Francisco Church, National Theater, Panama Canal Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral and many typical houses.

The time flies and I have to hand in the bike already. It was a nice and interesting tour and I can only recommend to explore Casco Viejo by bike. From the market I walk again along the waterside promenade in the direction of my hostel. On the way I meet a group of students giving free hugs. I like this idea and get my hug from a young girl from Panama. The promenade is my favorite place so far. It is quiet but at the same time always something happens. A few meters further a group of girls is dancing, other people are doing sport together and then there is this film crew filming this 20 second scene again and again.


Another Must-See when you are in Panama City is of course the Panama Canal. From Marbella I take a taxi for 10 USD and walk upstairs to the viewpoint. It is really impressive. Sadly I am a little bit too late and the last boat passed already.traveling-universaltravellerDSC_0006-645x431

From the Canal I take a taxi to downtown Panama and walk along the streets untill it is already time to go back to Costa Rica. I had a very good time in Panama, one of my favorite places I have been so far.

A very special thanks to Florian! I hope we will travel together soon again!

Are you travelling on a tight budget? Find here Things to do for Free in Panama City

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